Ottawa vs Gatineau

Ottawa vs Gatineau: Which City Is Better to Live In?

It’s a tale of two cities, Ottawa and Gatineau, seemingly separated only by a river, yet each one has its own sets of benefits and cultures. 

Ottawa is better to live in than Gatineau in terms of salary, job opportunities, healthcare, and education. However, Gatineau offers cheaper rent and consumer prices as compared to Ottawa.

Cost of Living-More expensive cost of living-Cheaper cost of living
Safety & Security-Overall lower crime rate-Slightly higher, but still low overall crime rate
Healthcare-Covered by OHIP

-Great variety of clinical services

-Has health insurance, but limited doctors

-Small variety of healthcare providers

Education-Has more expensive education

-Has a larger variety of educational institutions

-Has cheaper education

-Very limited choices for educational institutions

Job Opportunities-Overall higher average monthly salary

-More job opportunities

-Lower average salary

-Fewer job opportunities

Which city is cheaper? 

Which city is cheaper

Gatineau is cheaper to live in than Ottawa when it comes to consumer prices, utilities, transportation, and rent. Specifically, Gatineau’s rent is 31.43% cheaper, and the overall cost of living is 54.63% lower than Ottawa’s.

You may refer to the table below for a detailed breakdown and comparison of the basic expenses plus rent you can expect in Ottawa and Gatineau.

Expense CategoryOttawaGatineau
Restaurant (Meal for 2)$82.50$60
Groceries (1.5-liter bottler of water)$2.03$1.60
Transportation (Monthly pass)$123.75$100
Basic utilities (Monthly)$163.30$118.97
Rent (1 BR apartment)$1,703.93$1,253.75
Housing (Price per square meter - apartment)$6,589.82$5,000
Sports & leisure$32.14$56.75

Taxes in Ottawa and Gatineau

Because Ottawa is within the province of Ontario, the tax range for workers in 2022 is around 5.05% to 13.16%. Whereas taxes in the province of Quebec, where Gatineau is located, are around 15% to 25.75%.

If you live in one city but are employed in another, you’ll still have to pay taxes for both areas. This is why it’s more advisable to choose just one area to settle and work at, to prevent any additional costs.

Which city is safer?

Which city is safer

Ottawa is safer to live in than Gatineau, scoring a low 28.14 in Numbeo’s crime index as compared to Gatineau’s 38.69. Additionally, Ottawa received a high score of 71.86 on the safety scale, whereas Gatineau received 61.31.

Overall, both cities have relatively low crime rates, but Ottawa simply enjoys an even lower crime index than Gatineau. 

Gatineau, in particular, suffers from a moderate level of property crimes such as theft. 

Overall crimes25.9637.78
Property crimes35.2646.1
Violent crimes27.3929.99

Thanks to the low crime rates, Ottawans gave a very high safety score of 85.75 when walking alone in the morning and a high safety score of 65.03 walking alone at night. Regardless of the time, they all felt very safe and secure in their city.

As for Gatineau, residents scored their safety of walking alone in day time at a high 76.66, whereas they felt only moderately safe at 58.68 walking alone at night.

Which city has better health services?

Which city has better health services

Healthcare in Ottawa is better than in Gatineau, which is why even residents of the latter would go to Ottawa for its more available health services. 

Gatineau is severely lacking in doctors and the waiting times in clinics and hospitals are long.

Even emergency cases in Gatineau take an average of 4 hours and 25 minutes before being seen by a doctor when it should only be up to 30 minutes. Access to enough physicians for the entire community is the biggest problem it faces.

According to an article by CBC News, Gatineau Hospital is among the worst in the western world for emergency care services. 

Although relying on the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) if you’re a resident of Ottawa can result in long wait times, you’d still have many more available options. 

If you hail from Gatineau and pay out of pocket for a doctor in Ottawa, you can thankfully ask Quebec to reimburse it.

Which city has a better education system?

Which city has a better education system

The educational system in Ottawa is much better than in Gatineau because it has 13 universities and colleges. 

However, Gatineau is the better option when it comes to the cost of education, with the annual tuition for graduate schools in Quebec costing only $3,353 compared to Ontario’s $9,671.

Ottawa has 13 world-class universities and colleges and a larger variety of options, but school fees are considerably more expensive here than in Gatineau. 

Daycare, for example, costs an average of $1,311.11 in Ottawa and $606.67 in Gatineau.

The average annual tuition for graduate schools in Quebec, where Gatineau is located, costs about $3,353, while Ontario costs an average of $9,671. 

Another thing you have to consider in Gatineau is that if you’re an immigrant with no English ancestry whatsoever, you’ll be obliged to enroll in a French-speaking school. You’ll have to learn and adjust to a new language altogether here.

On the other hand, Ottawa is a bilingual city, so you’ll be given the choice of what kind of learning institution best fits your needs. There are even sectarian schools here in Ottawa if you prefer those kinds of educational institutions.

Schools in Ottawa and Gatineau

Ottawa has around 117 elementary schools and 25 high schools that you can choose from. It’s also home to the following top universities:

  • University of Ottawa
  • The Université Saint Paul
  • Carleton University
  • La Cité College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Algonquin College
  • City College

The city of Gatineau has much fewer choices compared to Ottawa, with only around 12 high schools and 3 universities. Its universities are the Université du Québec en Outaouais, Cégep de l’Outaouais, and Heritage College.

Which city has more job opportunities?

Which city has more job opportunities

Ottawa has better job opportunities than Gatineau, which is why even residents of the latter work in Ottawa instead. Additionally, Ottawa is a bigger city, so it has an overall larger job market.

Although, it should be noted that Gatineau’s unemployment rate is lower than Ottawa’s at 3.7% compared to the latter’s 4.4%. 

However, Ottawa’s average after-tax income is higher at $4,613.60, whereas Gatineau’s is around $3,173.75 on average.